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A Statistical Model to Explain the Mendel-Fisher Controversy

Pires, Ana M.; Branco, João A.

Statistical Science, 25(4) (2010), 545-565

In 1866 Gregor Mendel published a seminal paper containing the foundations of modern genetics. In 1936 Ronald Fisher published a statistical analysis of Mendel’s data concluding that “the data of most, if not all, of the experiments have been falsified so as to agree closely with Mendel’s expectations.” The accusation gave rise to a controversy which has reached the present time. There are reasonable grounds to assume that a certain unconscious bias was systematically introduced in Mendel’s experimentation. Based on this assumption, a probability model that fits Mendel’s data and does not offend Fisher’s analysis is given. This reconciliation model may well be the end of the Mendel–Fisher controversy.